Experience will prepare Alan Pardew for Newcastle job

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The Independent Online

Alan Pardew has seen enough of the highs and lows of football to fit in perfectly at Newcastle.

As a player, he came late to the professional game, cutting his teeth in the non-league ranks before getting his big chance with Crystal Palace at the age of 25.

Pardew made 158 appearances for the Eagles, memorably firing them into the 1990 FA Cup final with the winner in an epic 4-3 semi-final victory over Liverpool.

He ended up with a loser's medal when Lee Martin's goal handed Manchester United a replay victory following a remarkable 3-3 draw at Wembley - events which would be repeated in 2006 when West Ham, managed by Pardew, lost to Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out after Steven Gerrard's injury-time strike levelled the scores at 3-3 and snatched the trophy from the Hammers' grasp.

Wimbledon-born Pardew left Palace for Charlton in November 1991 and after a loan spell at Tottenham, headed for Barnet and then Reading as his playing days drew to a close.

It was at Barnet that he took his first steps on the coaching ladder, a process which gathered pace at Reading, where he worked with the reserves and had two spells in caretaker charge before being appointed in his own right in October 1999.

Under his guidance, they rebuilt in the wake of relegation from the Championship and after suffering the disappointment of League One play-off final defeat by Walsall in 2001, they fought their way back into the higher division automatically 12 months later.

Pardew's success at Reading caught the attention of the Hammers and when they came calling in October 2003, the Royals were more than reluctant to let him go, with chairman John Madejski prompting the manager's resignation by refusing him permission to speak to the Londoners in what proved to be an acrimonious split.

West Ham ultimately got their man, however, and he took them to the Championship play-off final in his first season only to see them go down 1-0 to his former club Palace.

Undaunted, they returned to the Millennium Stadium a year later when Bobby Zamora's goal saw off Preston and took the club into the Barclays Premier League.

That and the club's FA Cup near-miss proved the high points of his reign, which came to an end in December 2006 with a change of ownership at Upton Park. His lay-off was short-lived as Charlton came calling, but their slide down the divisions proved fatal.

Pardew returned to the game at Southampton in July last year, but lost his job in a major reshuffle this summer.

The scepticism of Newcastle's fans over the 49-year-old's appointment is perhaps understandable in the circumstances, with anger at Chris Hughton's sacking still to dissipate.

Hughton was shown the door because the club's hierarchy was unsure whether or not he could keep the club in the Premier League this season, with the prospect of a second relegation in three seasons not part of the club's financial blueprint for the years ahead.

Pardew will arrive on Tyneside, as so many of his recent predecessors did, with public opinion far from firmly behind him.

While that may be the result of fresh anger with his employers rather than anything personal, he will know results on the pitch will at least ease the burden.

Unlike Kevin Keegan, he will arrive having been told in no uncertain terms not to expect a multi-million-pound war-chest; like Hughton, he will be handed a remit to preserve the club's top-flight status and that, in the short-term at least, will be the measure of success or otherwise.

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